Section Description Provided by Instructor
One Semester, 7 credits.
Minor writing credit given; major writing credit by arrangement with the professor.
10-14 students will be admitted each semester.
Students enroll in the clinic for one semester; there may be an opportunity to continue working with clients in subsequent semesters.
Students in the clinic will represent clients in actual cases as well as participate in a variety of pedagogical exercises (in weekly seminars, weekly team meetings with the professor, readings, and simulated exercises). All students should devote at least 21 hours a week to clinic work. The clinic emphasizes problem solving of environmental issues, substantive environmental law, as well as basic lawyering skills that are transferable and are designed to equip students for a variety of career paths.
The clinic will represent clients on a broad array of environmental issues including clean water, environmental justice, land use, and clean air. Clients likely will include community groups, regional environmental organizations, and possibly national environmental organizations.
Students will be confronted with environmental problems brought to them by clients and work together with the client, their colleagues, and the professor to identify strategies for seeking innovative solutions for the clients' concerns. Students will engage in a variety of fact gathering and fact development techniques including interviewing clients, file reviews and reviews of other documentary sources, Freedom of Information Act/Law requests, pre-trial discovery, and preparation of experts and other witnesses. Students will explore and pursue both litigation and non-litigation strategies for resolving the clients' problems. Students will work with professionals from other disciplines to seek creative solutions for their clients' concerns. Other professionals who may be involved in the work of the clinic include planners, biologists, environmental scientists, engineers, and economists. In devising strategies to alleviate the clients' concerns, students will develop and refine counseling skills. Students will address ethical issues arising from their cases including potential conflicts that may arise in the representation of multiple clients. Students will learn the professional obligations that they have as lawyers in the attorney-client relationship.
We will hold a weekly seminar to discuss work on cases, explore legal and ethical issues that arise in cases, and engage in the simulation exercises. To prepare for their work as lawyers representing clients, students will participate in an extensive program of simulations including client interviewing, investigation, drafting of pleadings, arguing motions, drafting interrogatories and responses, depositions, negotiations, and trial practice.
Students will identify their own professional goals for the semester including specific skills or professional attributes they would like to develop or enhance in preparation for making the transition to the legal profession. These goals will serve as one measure of a student's success in the clinic. Students will be asked to reflect on their experiences in a journal and other short assignments.
Students will work in teams to represent clients. Students will meet with the professor at least weekly in teams and individually.
R 3 –5:30 p.m.
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Registration only through Clinic application process during the spring semester. See http://www.law.columbia.edu/focusareas/clinics/apps for more information.